Writer’s Corner: The Proofreading Challenge

So, a new month and a new challenge. As regular readers will know, I’ve been proofreading and self-editing my novel for the last couple of months and honestly, I’ve always thought I was pretty good at the spelling thing and while I am not picture-perfect on grammar, I always figured I pretty much knew what I was doing…

Yeah…

About that…

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders offers a free on-line test to see just how much you do know. I just (and I mean just) passed. The link is below. Go on, I dare you. Try it yourself and comment below with your scores.

Proofreading Test

But it got me thinking. It is like grammar has been forgotten somehow. Just look at the way we all speak and talk each day. I am sure, without question, that there are errors in this post you are reading simply because no one ever taught me better. At school, if you could get the difference between a comma and a semi-colon, you were onto a winner. So I’m making June my grammar month. I want to relearn the skills I was never given a chance to learn.

So… lesson one: Less v Fewer.

I have lived my whole life thinking they were interchangeable. And I’m blaming the supermarkets for that one. “Less than eight items”. Apparently no one ever schooled them in grammar. The rule is actually pretty simple. If you can count it, use fewer. If its more of a ‘conceptual’ amount, use less. So the above should be “Fewer than eight items” because the number is specific. But “There were less of them than he had expected” because that is not a quantifiable amount (unless he can count how many less and then it should be fewer). Simple. Right?